Jose Carlos Mariategui

Art: Marcelo Guimarães Lima


Entry from the “Dictionary of Marxism in America”

Life and political praxis

Born in southern Peru, José Carlos Mariátegui La Chira (1984-1930) moved to Huacho, a city close to the capital, as a child. His father, a civil servant, soon abandoned the family, leaving it to his mother, María Amalia La Chira Vallejos – a Catholic seamstress of indigenous descent – ​​to raise the three children. In 1902, Mariátegui had an accident at school and fractured his knee – an episode that took a bad turn, leaving him with a limp. However, while he was hospitalized in Lima, he devoted himself to reading the various books he had access to and studying French – thus giving a first boost to his extensive training, which would become mainly self-taught.

Already in 1909, he began to work with typography in the newspaper La Prensa. In the prelude to World War I, he made his debut in writing, with literary criticism and verses, to later publish his first journalistic articles with political themes. Under the pseudonym Juan Croniqueur, he satirized Lima's frivolity, demonstrating a wide knowledge that brought him closer to avant-garde intellectual and artistic circles, as well as to the labor movement (anarchist in line) that was gestating since the end of the century, brought to America by European immigrants.

Standing out as a journalist, Mariátegui soon became a columnist for the newspaper Weather (1916), in which he began to dedicate himself to the political struggle, denouncing the falsehood of “mixed-race democracy”: a demagogic system that served the ruling classes as a source of “fun”, diverting popular attention from the fact that the region’s bourgeoisie coastal land, allied to the large rural landowners in the interior, made Peru increasingly a “colonial sector” of US imperialism. His texts from this period were developed during a time of sharp rise in food prices and consequent popular discontent, when workers' unrest was growing – and the political dominance of the oligarchy (financial, extractive and agro-export) was in crisis. Already a supporter of socialism, the author supported strikes and confronted the Lima ruling elite.

In 1918, a movement for University Reform began in Córdoba (Argentina), which would later cover the entire continent; excited, Mariátegui stated that this was the “birth of the new Latin American generation”. In the same year, he participated in the founding of the ephemeral magazine New Era, another landmark of Peruvian politics at the beginning of the century: a publication that, while not yet outlining a “socialist program”, appeared as an ideological effort in this direction. With that, he began his activities as an editor, which would make up an important part of his mature political activity: communist.

The victory of the Russian Revolution and the end of World War I signaled – in Peru and around the world – a period of agitation for the working classes. In 1919, Mariátegui and his comrade César Falcón founded the newspaper The Reason – who soon became a prominent voice in favor of workers' demands. That same year, a general strike was repressed in the capital with violence and arrests; a decade of right-wing populism began – economically pro-American, but which also flirted with the indigenist movement. Mariátegui, through his newspaper, came out in defense of the imprisoned labor leaders, an attitude that made him be acclaimed by a crowd in the streets. However, a month later, the newspaper's office was closed, and he, albeit discreetly, was exiled to Europe, receiving a sort of government grant - supposedly as a propagandist for Peru abroad (in fact, a boon conciliatory, since she happened to be related to the wife of President Augusto Leguía).

As he would report (“Apuntes autobiográficas”, 1927), he then continued his journey, breaking with his initial experience as a writer “contaminated by decadence” (individualism, skepticism) and turning “resolutely” to socialism. He lived there for three years (between the end of 1919 and 1923), having visited some countries: Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Switzerland, France and, in particular, Italy, where he took up residence. Amidst the influence of the conjuncture experienced there – in which the Soviet Revolution echoed loudly – ​​Europe brought him closer to the works of Marx, Engels and Lenin, in addition to the Italian communist movement and surrealism. In the Bolshevik Party he saw the convergence between theory e practiceInter philosophy e science; he asserted that Lenin was "unquestionably" the "most energetic and fruitful invigorator of Marxist thought."

Still according to him, during this period, he married “a woman and some ideas”; the Italian Anna Chiappe, his companion, conveyed to him a “new political enthusiasm”. Her family was close to the philosopher Benedetto Croce, through whom Mariátegui would get to know the work of Georges Sorel – a revolutionary unionist from whom she absorbed ideas such as the “myth of the general strike” and the defense of the use of revolutionary violence against instituted violence. . In Italy, he attended factory occupations, workers' congresses and approached the collective editor of the magazine L'Ordine Nuovo; participated in socialist study groups, came into contact with the thinking of Antonio Gramsci and Umberto Terracini, and experienced the creation of the Communist Party of Italy (from the split of the Italian Socialist Party).

His European stay was also a lookout from which he could observe the East: the Chinese Revolution and the awakening of India, the Arabs and the various post-war nationalist and anti-imperialist movements. In these events, he verified a process of decline in Western society. Such a conception would be reinforced when he saw the Italian fascist rise up close – which he perceived as a response by big capital to a profound social and political crisis. In parallel to this sociopolitical effervescence, Mariátegui had access to the works of Sigmund Freud and Friedrich Nietzsche, becoming interested in the newly created psychoanalysis, as by philosophy intuitive ( vitalist).

However, if at first he brought with him the humility of a disciple open to the then center of modern thought, progressively began to be disappointed with the misfortunes he witnessed in Europe. He thus assumed a pioneering anthropological perspective – inverted in relation to what was done at the time–, managing to capture details of the crisis western hitherto little noticed by Europeans. This is the case of the decay of the so-called “bourgeois democracy”, a process that a little later would conceive as a new sham ruling class, redesigning its power with the authoritarian traits of fascism.

When he returned to Peru, in 1923, Mariátegui already openly defended the communist cause; moreover, the European tragedy had led him to understand more clearly the historical significance of the tragedy in his America. Back in Lima, he participated in the III Congress do Tahuantinsuyo Indigenous Pro-Derecho Central Committee (CCPDIT, constituted in 1919), meeting the indigenist leader Ezequiel Urviola, with whom he became close. That same year, the Peruvian intellectual and politician Haya de la Torre invited him to teach classes at Popular Universities González Prada – the seed of what would become the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA), a continental movement with a reformist tendency. Mariátegui gave two dozen conferences there to disseminate Marxism, presenting his vision of the world crisis in a polarized scenario, in which the social-democratic theses (founded on the supposed social evolutionism) no longer made sense; the debates also addressed the “indigenous question”, a topic that would be central to it.

The following year, due to a tumor appearing in his healthy leg, he had the limb amputated, starting to use a wheelchair. Recovered from the shock, in 1925, together with his brother Julio César, he founded the Press and Editorial Minerva, a project aimed at “scientific, literary and artistic” publications – the publisher through which he published his first books and exposed Peruvian and foreign authors to the national public (such as the indigenist Luis Valcárcel, the Aprista poet Magda Portal and the Russian Máximo Gorki).

In 1926, Mariátegui's editorial work expanded with the founding of the magazine amauta (“wise” in Quechua, the name by which he would be known), whose proposal, in addition to the economic aspect, was to promote political debate, especially Marxist, and socialist cultural. Addressing issues ranging from Marxism and Leninism to poetry, literature, contemporary art and workers' education, Mariátegui's posture became more acute – radical. With his criticisms of aprism and the mixed-race-oligarchic intellectuality, his rapprochement with Haya weakened; went on to refute Apra's "paternalistic" indigenism, defending the idea that in America one could not only seek a reflected image of European communism, but that a "heroic creation" would be necessary, in which the indigenous peasant community - essentially "in solidarity" ” in its social relations – would become the basis of the contemporary socialist state. He also rejected the “racial” theory of some indigenists who, in opposition to the Eurocentric current, claimed that the natives would have something innate that would lead them to free themselves “naturally”; considering both “racist” positions, he stated that everyone is subject to the same “laws” that govern peoples, and that what will ensure indigenous emancipation is the dynamism of an economy and a culture that “carry in their guts the germ of socialism ”.

In 1927, CCPDIT was banned from functioning; with this, some of the indigenous leaders – with whom Mariátegui maintained relations (such as Urviola, Hipolito Salazar and Eduardo Quispe y Quispe) – joined the Marxist socialism that was consolidated around the “movement” that was the magazine amauta. Around this time, Mariátegui also took over the publication of Storm in the Andes (1927), work by L. Valcárcel considered the “bible of radical indigenism”. In the prologue, he wrote one of his most emblematic phrases – “indigenous hope is revolutionary” –, going on to develop his idea that the “socialist revolution” was the “new myth” of the indigenous people, the transforming faith upon which Peruvian communism would build its pillars. Defining the indigenous issue as an “economic” one, he discarded the “philanthropic” approaches that prevailed: the “indigenous problem” – he asserts – is the “problem of the land”, the “latifundio”. Intensifying his criticisms of apristas, accused his indigenism of having been created “vertically” by literate mestizos from the elites – a position that, while useful in condemning latifundismo, was inappropriate for the revolution.

In the middle of this year, as a result of the impetus that the anti-imperialist struggle had achieved – with the First World Congress against Imperialism and Colonial Oppression (Brussels, 1927) –, the magazine amauta had an issue dedicated to debating US imperialism. This resulted in Mariátegui being arrested and the magazine closed for a few months, being accused – by Leguía, under pressure from the US embassy – of being part of a “communist plot”. Later, as if in response, he wrote one of his most impactful essays, “El problema de la tierra” (1927), in which he declared himself a “convinced and avowed” Marxist.

The following year, gathering dozens of essays written since 1924, he published his classic: Seven essays on the interpretation of Peruvian reality (1928) - high point of his “investigation of national reality according to the Marxist method”. Thus, he broke with Aprista nationalism. In a letter to Haya, he expressed his disagreement with the class alliance policy. The latter replied, accusing him of “Europeanism”. Mariátegui contested this, stating that he believed that “there is no salvation for Indo-America” without modern “science” and “thought”: “my judgments are nourished by my ideals, my feelings, my passions”.

Still in 1928, he founded his party, to which – in order not to aggravate the political persecutions that the communists were suffering and to enlist more supporters – he appointed Peruvian Socialist Party (PSP); however, he prioritized linking the PSP to the Communist International (IC). Mariátegui had approached the IC at the end of the previous year, when invited to participate in the IV Congress of the Red Trade Union International (Moscow, 1928) – to which the PSP would send representatives –, and he would no longer distance himself from this organization, although not without controversy ( always defending party critical independence). This was a fervent moment in his life, a time when he began several political-philosophical clashes against conservative nationalism and dogmatic socialism (which predicted a social evolution linear, supposedly “natural” – and in European molds).

In 1929, Mariátegui participated in the creation of the trade union central General Confederation of Workers of Peru and then the PSP sent delegates (led by Julio Portocarrero and Hugo Pesce) to the XNUMXst Latin American Communist Conference (Buenos Aires) – who expounded the “theses” written largely by Mariátegui (“Antecedentes y desarrollo de acción clasista”, “Anti-imperialist point of view” and “El problema de las razas en América Latina”). Opposing the CI's proposal to create indigenous states in the Andes, the theses maintained that the “indigenous question” was fundamentally a “class” problem; that its core was not ethnic division, but land tenure – and this should define the country's policy. It was, therefore, up to the revolutionaries to convince the nation's indigenous, mixed-race and black people to “insurgency”, showing them that only a government of united workers and peasants could lead them to liberation. At this event, despite being absent due to health problems, Mariátegui was elected a member of the General Council of the League against Imperialism and Colonial Oppression, an entity linked to the Third International – starting to change the name of the PSP to Partido Comunista del Peru (which would only take effect after his death).

Shortly afterwards, in April 1930, Mariátegui's health, which was fragile, deteriorated again. On the eve of his death, the still young Marxist urged revolutionaries to study “Leninism”. He died before reaching the age of 36, and his funeral was attended by a massive procession of admirers.

Contributions to Marxism

The formation of José Carlos Mariátegui took place in a troubled historical moment, in which, on the one hand, with the First War, the capitalist powers led humanity to know one of its greatest horrors; on the other hand, the Soviet experience of socialist construction proposed in practice an alternative to that system, which was already showing signs of decay. Dedicated self-taught, he had several theoretical influences, but with the evolution of his political militancy and pioneering thinking, he consolidated himself as one of the most important Marxists, not only in his country or continent, but of his time.

Standing out in his short existence as a writer, journalist, editor, social scientist, philosopher and communist leader, it is observed that his attraction to Marxism was born above all from the search for an explanation of Long term for the historical processes of his country, as well as a concomitant revolutionary proposal, which would dialectically link the past: present and the future. On this path, he dedicated himself to obtaining a deep understanding of the native Andean civilization – atrophied by colonization – and to think about the possibilities of breaking with this structure.

Lima, at the beginning of the XNUMXth century, was already a cosmopolitan capital, although it had more to do with Europe than with the interior of its own country – indigenous and impoverished. Peru was a fractured country, divided into regions well separated from each other and with peculiar historical rhythms: the coast (Pacific), the mountains (Andes) and the jungle (Amazon). From this fact Mariátegui deduces one of his main theses: Peru was still a outline – an incomplete nation. He understands that the Peruvian national formation had been interrupted; that his revolutionary process took place by the top, through a kind of non-classical pathway – an original conception that is close to those of A. Gramsci (for Italy) and Caio Prado Júnior (for Brazil). It was necessary, therefore, make up The turkey.

In his country, as in so many in America, the elite was still guided by foreign models, and only indigenism, around the 1920s, had partially interrupted this trend. Until then, what prevailed – including in the socialist sphere – was the idea that the emancipation of indigenous peoples would consist in making them “civilized” (according to the Western European model). This only began to change with the action of the natives themselves, who in the 1910s inaugurated a new cycle in their long history of resistance against the domination of the colonial state and the landowners. One of the milestones of this transformation was its participation in the War of the Pacific (1879-1883), against Chile, which served for the socialist environment to produce a self-criticism: the indigenous populations did not need to be “awakened” – but it was necessary that the revolutionaries themselves relativize their references eurocentric, paying attention to the practical experience of indigenous mobilizations. Entering into debates about the so-called “indigenous issue”, Mariátegui submits the trends of his time to a radical socialist critique. This is the case of “Creole nationalism”, a position defended by the Peruvian mestizo elite; in Mariategu's understanding, the ruling classes of the country were in solidarity with the colonizer – a finding that led him to propose the construction of an avant-garde nationalism, which claimed the “Inca past”.

Along the way, Amauta's conceptions and political praxis would be distinguished especially by his attention to indigenous knowledge (to its pertinence and revolutionary value), as well as to the vital spirit awakened throughout the world by the Russian Revolution. He considers that, in the midst of the process of political and existential alienation – inherent to capitalism –, this Revolution managed to awaken the “morning man”, this being tired of the night “artificially enlightened” (post-war bourgeois decadence). For the social construction of this new human one must absorb the goods from all sources of knowledge to which the contemporary world could have access: not only modern knowledge, but also traditional knowledge – from peoples such as the Andeans (“El alma matinal”, 1928). Relating economic and cultural aspects, he investigates qualities of different historical periods, reflecting on the strength of the “revolutionary myth”: this utopia concrete. He understands that it is necessary to work on the dialectic between objectivity e subjectivity, among other creative contrasts, such as the synthesis he proposes between knowledge from the past and present. In his conception, the knowledge of the new times should encompass elements of knowledge that he, imprecisely, calls “western” (in the sense of current philosophies, sciences and techniques – in fact, fruits of the millennial universal exchange) and “oriental” (that is, the non-western, traditional, autochthonous, peasant – related to people connected to the land).

Mariátegui's intention was to revitalize Marxist praxis, which in his time was smothered by the reformism of the Socialist International (IS) – an organization contaminated by “mediocre positivism”. He declares that World War I had shown mankind that there are "facts superior to the prediction of science" and "contrary to the interest of civilization"; beyond reason, human beings need “faith”, “passion”, combative “hope”.

In this regard, the Marxist Florestan Fernandes would later observe: Mariátegui realized that the thoughtless progress, promoted by capitalism, had resulted in an increase in barbarism (an underestimated reality from the “Eurocentric perspective”); that mere technical progress cannot be obtained spontaneously an evolution human, Social; on the contrary, observing society as a whole (wars, genocides, hunger, inequality), one sees the worsening of the disorientation, of the “implosive” contradictions of this self-destructive civilizational process.

With the aim of questioning the narrowness of modern scientism, Amauta became interested in certain concepts of Freud and Nietzsche, being one of the first Marxists to bring conceptions of these thinkers – critics of deification from the reason operated in modernity – to the communist debate. He looked for elements there that would allow him to encompass human irrationality in the Marxist interpretation of the all real (thus expanding the cognitive perspective of concrete social reality). In part of these ideas he identified solid interpretative weapons for denouncing alienation, impotence, the artificiality of the human being inserted in the bourgeois and Christian repressive sociocultural structure.

However, it is important to point out that Mariátegui is far from any proposal for a synthesis eclectic, that aimed to merge principles of historical materialism with others conflicting or alien to this revolutionary thought. By appropriating some of the knowledge psychological and especially vitalists (and this despite despising “skepticism” and “relativism”, seeing “Nietzscheanism” as a “disease” of the spirit), Mariategu’s purpose is to reinforce the struggle for an effectively Marxist conception. dialectic, as opposed to the (determinist, mechanistic) reformism that affected – and still affects – influential socialist currents, linear postures that he defines as an “academic fossilization” of Marxism. In short, his concern is to value the ethical dimension that composes the Marxist notion of praxis – the desire for freedom, the hope to be rebuilt, the emancipatory feeling that impels the human being desirous of autonomy, justice, happiness to action. To this end, in opposition to reformist (parliamentary, evolutionary) apathy, it is open to theories that investigate the unconscious, human passions, the subjective question of revolutionary “faith”, of the “myth” that animates the combative spirit of the oppressed. He understands the sentimental sphere of Marxism as a powerful factor – necessary for the revolution.

In this sense, his Marxist conception highlights the value of community traditions, highlighting certain aspects that allowed indigenous people to enjoy a better quality of life before the European invasion - such as "solidarity", characteristic of the "agrarian communism" of Inca society, in frank contrast with the competitiveness praised by capitalism. However, he states that if in the past the indigenous worked with pleasure and more fullness, in the present it would no longer be possible to give up the diverse knowledge that the contemporary world has achieved. It is therefore necessary to relate the best fruits of current knowledge (advanced techniques, modern sciences and, in particular, Marxist thought) with traditional knowledge (he is referring particularly to the Inca people, whose revolutionary vigor is materialized in the habit of mutual cooperation and their faith in the revolution).

It is in this itinerary that Mariátegui develops his conception of a “new romanticism” – which he understands as “spontaneously and logically socialist”. Its purpose is to relate the invigorating and idealistic impulse of subjectivity romantic to the conflicting concreteness of realistic objectivity. Thus, he re-elaborates the concept of “myth” (by G. Sorel), transforming it, deepening it: the “revolutionary myth” is a “superhuman hope” that brings people a new enchantment towards life. In this way, it updates the old and abstract romantic spirit, incorporating into it the epistemic objectivity of “proletarian realism” (antipositivist, aware of human imperfection) – in order to cultivate, in a more realistic way, the energy subjective present in hope for a new society. In summary: romanticism and realism are for him two postures intrinsic to Marxism, which contribute to revolutionary transformation, according to a dialectic that can be called romantic-realistic.

With regard to historiography, one of the main Mariateguian contributions is his analysis of the national question Peruvian, elaborated in the historical materialist perspective – reflection that, in part, he would extend to the Latin American nations in general. In this context, among his contributions with the greatest political impact is his conclusion that a “national bourgeoisie” has not been formed in America (supposedly interested in becoming ally to socialists in the confrontation with imperialism). In such a debate, the so-called “alliancist” position defended the proposal of a coalition of classes that should be commanded by supposedly progressive bourgeois sectors, while the socialists only had a submissive position. However, according to Mariátegui, the Latin American elites would have no interest in facing imperialism, since, unlike other peoples (such as Asians), they had no ties with the people – neither history nor common culture. On the contrary: the Peruvian bourgeois, “white”, despised what was “popular”, “national”, feeling himself above all as a white person; the “petty bourgeois”, “mixed race”, imitated him. Only the socialist revolution – he asserts – could stop imperialism in a radical way. And it is in the Russian Revolution that he sees the best example to be followed – not in the sense of a “model” to be copied, but of a “guide” for the decisions that each people must make for itself.

In possession of this compass - and EXPERIENCE Bolshevik –, the Andean Marxist polemicized with revisionists, nationalists, with the social-democratic reformism of the Second International (IS) and, later, with some theses of the Third International (IC) that he considered Eurocentric. Although he supported the IC from an early age, and later joined it (linking his party), Mariátegui criticized the proposal of this organization according to which the Peruvian communists should promote the creation of “independent native republics”, considering it a mistaken reading of the theses of Lenin on the self-determination of peoples. In his view, his country's problem was the unresolved “agrarian question” – and given that three-quarters of the population was indigenous, this people, mostly peasants, would be the protagonists of the revolutionary process.

Pioneer of a Marxist thought properly As an American, Mariátegui would influence several social movements in the history of the XNUMXth century, from peasant and indigenous resistance groups to guerrilla groups and politicians of various revolutionary tendencies – and, nowadays, with the intensification of criticism of Eurocentrism, his ideas have acquired even greater projection.

Comment on the work

José Carlos Mariátegui's writings address a wide range of themes, ranging from philosophy, historiography, sociology and economics, to literature, psychology, art criticism and education, among other fields of knowledge. Given his early death (1930), he had only two books published in his lifetime (by his Minerva publishing house), leaving three more organized. His other writings were selected and began to be published (under the seal of Empresa Editora Amauta) three decades after his death, from an editorial venture directed by his wife Anna and their children, in partnership with comrades such as H. Pesce and Albert Taurus.

Your first book, the contemporary scene (Lima: Minerva, 1925) is a selection of articles that focus on figures and aspects of international reality, dealing with themes such as: fascism, “crisis” of liberal democracy and reformist socialism, revolutionary literature, “facts and ideas” of the Russian Revolution and Essays on Peoples of the East.

Seven essays on the interpretation of the Peruvian reality (Lima: Minerva, 1928) is his most widespread and important work. With dozens of editions and several translations, it brings together essays in which he applies historical materialism to understand the reality of his country, addressing subjects such as: the evolution of the national economy, the “indigenous issue” and “the land issue”, public education , the “religious factor” in the formation of Peru, the problem of Peruvian “regionalism” and “centralism” and national literature.

Among the posthumous books that he left forwarded is Defense of Marxism: revolutionary polemic (Santiago-Chile: Ediciones Nacionales y Extranjeras, 1934), written between 1927 and 1929 and centered on philosophical questions, in which he presents fundamental points of view of his Marxist philosophy. Departing from an analysis of Henri de Man's “disenchanted” revisionism, he criticizes liberal economics, social-democratic reformism, British labor evolutionism and pragmatism, and “conformist literature”; analyzes the limitations of modern philosophy, showing how Marxism (only “in part” a philosophy) overcame it and will remain valid as long as class society persists; and, still, in a pioneering essay on the subject (when few had dedicated themselves to the issue) he lists the thoughts of Marx and Freud, pointing out affinities.

Yes, The morning soul and other stations of today's man (Lima: Amauta, 1950) is a selection of texts from 1923 to 1929 in which he discusses various subjects related to philosophy and culture, such as: contemporary literature, art history, modern Italian culture and the “emotion of our time” – opposing the impotent “skeptical” perspective of bourgeois society in crisis to the renewed “romantic” spirit (which animates the new “myth”, “socialism”).

The third work, The soap opera and life (Lima: Amauta, 1955), shows that Mariátegui maintains her youthful literary verve in maturity. As the author describes it – who highly valued literature in the process of socialist construction –, it is a “story”: “a mixture of short story and chronicle, of fiction and reality”. Based on a curious court case that took place in Italy, the plot involves a supposedly memoryless teacher who a woman claims is her missing husband – thus starting to live another reality (that of a factory worker).

It was only three decades after his death that editions (including popular ones) gathering his other writings began to come to light. Started in 1959, the collection entitled Complete works (Lima: Editora Amauta), although far from containing the prolific work of the Marxist, brings in 16 volumes (of his texts), in addition to the books already mentioned, the following titles: ideology and politics (1959), which deals with Mariátegui's indigenism and Marxist political philosophy; Themes from Nuestra America (1959); The artist and the time (1959); signs and works (1959); History of the World Crisis: Conferences (1959); letters from italy (1969); Peruanicemos to Peru (1970); education topics (1970); and Figures and aspects of world life (1970), published in three volumes divided by periods (I: 1923-1925; II: 1926-1928; III: 1929-1930). The collection also brings some extra volumes with writings about the author's work - such as the book Poems to Mariategui (with a prologue by the poet Pablo Neruda).

More recently, the work was launched total Mariátegui (Lima: Amauta, 1994), commemorative edition of the centenary of the Marxist, which in two volumes (with four thousand pages) includes, in addition to the texts already published in previous books, also his youth writings, correspondence and photographic album.

Among the main Mariateguian essays (contained in the aforementioned editions), these are worth special attention, in which the author deals with themes that were central to him, such as Marxist philosophy and revolutionary political praxis: “El crepúsculo de la civilización” (1922 ), which analyzes the decay of “capitalist civilization” (“essentially European”); “El hombre y el mito” (1925), which discusses the new “myth”, the “social revolution”; “Dos concepciones de la vida” (1925), which accuses “superstitious respect” for the idea of ​​“progress” and defends the “necessity of faith” in order, like “the Bolsheviks, to move towards utopia”; “Democracy Crisis” (1925), which shows fascism as a reaction to the crisis of the “aged” bourgeois regime, an adaptation of the elite to the new times of “monopoly imperialism” in which “liberal democracy” no longer served them; “Is there a Hispanic American thought?” (1925); “Heterodoxy of tradition” (1927); “Mensaje al Congreso Obrero” (1927); and some letters from Italian period. Furthermore, in order to understand his political thought, it is worth referring to the “Programmatic Principles of the Socialist Party” (1928), in which he claims that it is necessary to adapt party actions to the social conditions of the country, but without failing to observe universal criteria, since national circumstances submit to world history, declaring that the PSP's method of struggle was "Marxism-Leninism", and the form, "revolution".

Despite the editorial efforts of recent decades, most of the approximately three thousand texts written by Mariátegui (many of them, articles for journals) remain dispersed in magazines in Peru and abroad (such as World e Varieties).

With regard to the small portion of his work that has already been translated into Portuguese, the following stand out: two editions of Seven essays on the interpretation of Peruvian reality, Alfa Omega (1975), prefaced by F. Fernandes, and Expressão Popular/Clacso (2008); the collections Politics (Attica, 1982), and For an Indo-American socialism (Editora UFRJ, 2006); and the expanded edition Defense of Marxism: Revolutionary Polemics and Other Writings (Boitempo, 2011), which, in addition to her book on Marxist philosophy, features unpublished essays in Portuguese on topics such as the Russian Revolution and feminism.

The volumes of the collection Complete works are available on the net, in portals such as red country (, Archivo Chile ( or marxists ( In addition to these books, the File JC Mariategui – in cooperation with the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (which, based on a donation from the family, conserves its private library) - has promoted the organization and digitization of extensive documentation on the Marxist, with numerous copies of his original manuscripts, correspondence and documents, as well as photographs (such as those used in his publications) being available on his portal ( ) and the complete collection of the magazine amauta. With regard to studies on Mariategu's thought, several collections and essays by researchers on the subject are also accessible on the web.

*Yuri Martins-Fontes he is a writer, teacher and journalist; PhD in Economic History (USP/CNRS). Author, among other books, of marx in america (Avenue).

Originally published on the Praxis Nucleus-USP.


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SANCHEZ VAZQUEZ, Adolfo. From Marx to Marxism in Latin America. Mexico City: Itaca, 2012. See this link.

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